Who We Are

About Us

The SBA is a group of individuals who invest personal funds in early-stage startup companies with innovative concepts and commercial promise.  We were founded in Sophia Antipolis on the French Riviera in 2002 and now have over 40 members around the world (Europe, US, UAE, and Asia). We are part of European Business Angels (EBAN), France Angels and partner with several angel groups.  This global network is our greatest strength as we seek to find opportunities together and to create value.

The team is made up of men and women who previously enjoyed careers as entrepreneurs or corporate executives and are now dedicated to supporting compelling business ideas and coaching young teams.  Startups benefit from access to our team from diverse disciplines, industries, and countries to guide them on their journeys to building successful companies themselves. 

It Takes A Global Community

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We have an extensive partner network including incubators, regional development agencies, business schools, banks, corporations, media, and other angel groups locally and globally. And we actively participate in other local events with The House of Artificial Intelligence and the ActinSpace Hackathon and many more within the various regions.  See the complete list of our ecosystem partners here.

The Sophia Business Angels just celebrated our 20-year anniversary and have expanded our global footprint over the years. However, we cherish our early beginnings and the contributions of the late Senator Pierre Laffitte (1925 – 2021), a friend and colleague who helped shape our region and club. He was President and founder of the Sophia-Antipolis technopole, now the largest in Europe with more than 2,000 hectares , 2,230 companies, 36,000 people, including 4,000 researchers and 5,000 students. He served as us all as Senator of the Alpes-Maritimes from 1985 to 2008 as the innovation specialist.  

Board Members

Edgardo Da Fonseca

President
Edgardo has 25 + years of international experience in Telecommunications, software, and services industries. As an entrepreneur, he created and developed several companies. With Ascend Communication, he developed cross-fertilization exchanges to share best practices with teams in Silicon Valley and France. Recognized as a thought leader in entrepreneurship, he also lectures at SKEMA and EDHEC business schools on International Development and Management. Edgardo has a degree in engineering from the Universidad Tecnológica Nacional in Argentina, and an MBA from SKEMA in France.

Candace Johnson

Co-President
Candace is a global infrastructure, network and innovation entrepreneur and investor. She founded/co-founded SES ASTRA and SES Global and several other space ventures. She has leadership roles of Seraphim Space Fund, NorthStar Earth and Space, and SES-imagotag, VP of Institut EuropIA, the European Institute of Artificial Intelligence and was president of EBAN for 4 years. Candance has an honorary doctorate from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Masters with honors from the Sorbonne and Stanford and an undergraduate degree from Vassar College.

Barbara Saxby

Communications Director
Barbara is a strategic marketing executive with 25 years in technology. As an interim VP/CMO from Silicon Valley, she positioned and launched dozens of software companies and held interim roles in big enterprises like NetApp and Adobe. Barbara founded Accelent Consulting where she managed a team of 30 and oversaw complex projects for mid-large enterprises to improve marketing and sales operations. Barbara has degrees in Psychology and Sociology from San Jose State University and post grad work at UC Berkeley CA.
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Romain Mielle-Chirouze

Treasurer
Romain is 29 years old and the treasurer of the SBA. He is an entrepreneur who founded his first company at the age of 22 in Guadeloupe and has since created several companies. Currently based in Nice with his main company, ANVM Consulting, specialized in mergers and acquisitions. Romain holds a degree in political science and economics.

Patrick Kedziora

Deal Flow Manager
Patrick Kedziora is a seasoned executive and serial entrepreneur with over two decades of leadership in the technology industry. He excels in software development, product management, and strategic planning. In addition to his current role as Founder & CEO of Boilingice.com, he sits on several boards and mentors’ startups and scale-ups in fundraising and expanding their business to America. He holds a dual bachelor’s degree in Economics and Politics Science and an MBA in Finance all from New York University.

Charles Sidman

SBA Member
Charles founded and directs ECS Capital Partners and co-founded the American Angel Capital Association. He supports startups through investing, VC, Crowdfunding and public markets. He advocates for financial, entrepreneurship, policy, and ethical issues globally and received Special Recognition Honoree of EBAN in 2018. He retired as Professor of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology from U. Cincinnati's College of Medicine. He has a PhD (Immunology) from Harvard, MBA (Management) from U. Cincinnati, and sabbatical study (Complex Systems) at Santa Fe Institute.

Jerome Nollet

SBA Member
Jerome was a Managing Director in financial institutions having worked in the USA, the UK and Brazil. Today he is a corporate finance Advisor with a focus on Europe and Latin America, an investor and board member in a few. Active in artificial intelligence, particularly related to corporate security, self-sovereign identity, and maritime economy. Founder of Wharton Alumni strategic mentors (pro-bono help for startups). MS in Economics, Paris 10, MBA from Wharton, CPA 20 Sao Paulo, and Boat skipper RYA, UK.

Audra Shallal

SBA Member
Audra promotes Entrepreneurship and Angel Investing through Programs, Mentoring, Business Plan Competitions, Business Angel Networks and Women Economic Empowerment within the EMEA region. She consults for international organizations including the European Commission, teaches Entrepreneurship, and conducts workshops globally. As Founder and Managing Director, BOSS Consulting, she mentors companies and is also involved with many angel groups. Audra has degrees in international business and economics from the American University in Paris and an MBA from le Ecole des Ponts Paristech.

Jean-Claude Goldenstein

SBA Member
Jean Claude is a tech entrepreneur and investor spending his time in both San Francisco and Cannes. He is the founder of CREOpoint, a patented AI innovation to combat information overload, disinformation, and fake news. Previously, he spent 10 years at Ernst & Young in risk mitigation and before that worked with Airbus, Boeing & GE in aerospace R&D, Jean Claude grew up in Cannes before graduating with a M.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering from Supaero and later earned an MBA.

Sylvain Theveniaud

SBA Member
Sylvain is the founder of the Allianz Accelerator that has accelerated 63 startups, raised a total of $700M+ with a combined valuation of $3B+. He is an Angel Investor, board member and mentor. Sylvain is cofounder at NFT Factory and was a pioneer in the TechStars Startup Weekend in France. Previously, Sylvain successfully spearheaded key executive positions for software companies. He received a BA from the Computer Science School of Dijon and an MBA in finance from Montpellier Business School.
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Jean-Marc Royer

SBA Member
Jean-Marc Royer is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of Netino, an Internet Social Media and Content Moderation fast-growing company of 1000 employees worldwide. He is also founder of five other companies and currently CEO of Origian, an investing company holding a portfolio of deep tech companies in the Internet, PropTech, Space and Biology fields. Jean-Marc Royer is frequently interviewed by medias like BFMTV, CNEWS, or France Info. He is also a technical expert with a strong focus on disruptive innovation.
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Olivier Bisserier

SBA Member
Olivier advises the management of fast growth companies at all stages. His expertise is mostly with strategy, scaling e-commerce platforms and finance. Between 2010 and 2019, Olivier was Global CFO of Booking.com where he led together with the company’s executive team the business to expand it globally into the world largest online travel agency. He was between previously with TNS, a market research firm, as European CFO, and PwC, as financial auditor. He lives in Mougins where he mentors local young entrepreneurs.
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Michael O'Connor

SBA Member
Michael O’Connor is a high tech entrepreneur & Angel investor. Started in marine and Arctic exploration before leading roles for US & Swiss MNCs. Co- founded and led a VC backed software start-up into the US and successful exit. Built angel networks investing over €100m. Created a Fund to invest in AI, Cyber & global big data ventures. Member of the Board of EBAN. Graduated from Cambridge University in Engineering and MBA from London Business School/Wharton. Holds university accredited Diploma in Corporate Governance. International Judge in sailing -major events.

President Emeritus Advisory Board

Marcel Dridje

President Emeritus and EBAN Board Representative
Marcel is an active advisor to the EMEA Startup Ecosystems and is now based in the GCC region. He has experience in all aspects of sales, marketing, and management with both big corporations and IT and Telecom startups in the US and Europe. Marcel is a former SBA president, current board member of European Business Angels Network, Mediterranean Business Angels Network, Maghreb Diaspora Business Angel, EuropIA Capital. He has a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science from Portsmouth Polytechnic UK

Jean-Louis Brelet

President Emeritus and France Angels Representatitve
Jean Louis is an investor, entrepreneur, and executive coach with passion for innovation & international business. He’s had an international career in the hi-tech industry, mainly micro-electronics & AI, in France, Germany and USA - 17 years with Xilinx Inc. Investing roles include past president of the SBA, President of CLOSDESOCRES, President EuropIA Capital, board member of France Angels, CEO of Entrepreneur-Avenue, and he sits on several other boards. Jean Louis earned an executive MBA from HEC in Paris, France.

Edgardo Da Fonseca

Founding President and Lifetime Achievement Winner
Edgardo has 25 + years of international experience in Telecommunications, software, and services industries. As an entrepreneur, he created and developed several companies. With Ascend Communication, he developed cross-fertilization exchanges to share best practices with teams in Silicon Valley and France. Recognized as a thought leader in entrepreneurship, he also lectures at SKEMA and EDHEC business schools on International Development and Management. Edgardo has a degree in engineering from the Universidad Tecnológica Nacional in Argentina, and an MBA from SKEMA in France.

Dominique Pouliquen

President Emeritus
Dominique Pouliquen is the CEO and co-founder of Cintoo, with offices in Sophia Antipolis, France and the USA. The company developed Cintoo Cloud, a reality data management platform for the Digital Twin Industries based in Miami, Florida. Previously, Dominique held executive positions at Autodesk in San Francisco, California, following the acquisition of REALVIZ, a company that he co-founded and managed as the CEO for 10 years in Sophia Antipolis. Dominique holds a Master’s in Engineering from ESEO in Angers, France.

Interested in becoming a business angel investor?​

We are always open to have new Sophia Business Angels members to join our ranks of successful professionals with a passion for smart investments.

Find out more how to apply by clicking below 

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